Weston Seitz's medalist round paces Lumberjacks to 1st in home invite

May 6—BEMIDJI — Weston Seitz was starting to worry about when he would find his next birdie.

The Bemidji High School boys golfer went into Monday's invite at the Bemidji Town and Country Club looking to shave off some strokes from his previous rounds.

"Coach and I talked about it earlier this year," Seitz said. "You just go out and trust yourself to get it done. I hadn't made a birdie in like four rounds. I was kind of wondering when it was going to happen."

Not only did Seitz find a birdie, he found six of them. The junior shot an even-par 72 at the BTCC to lead all players, pacing Bemidji to a team score of 306 in first place.

"What I really liked about Weston today was his demeanor," head coach Seth Knudson said. "He didn't get too high after birdies, and he didn't get too low after a bogey. He just went out there, played well and stayed focused on the next shot instead of the shots behind him. He took advantage of his opportunities."

Seitz is the latest boys golfer to lead BHS at a meet. The Jacks can lean on any of their six varsity players to go low in any given tournament, a luxury Knudson hasn't had to this extent since he took over as head coach in 2011.

"This is a group that's been together for a long time," Knudson said. "These guys have been grinding for four years. It's really nice to have six kids you can count on. You don't know which four of the six it will be. For some teams, if your top four kids don't do it, your five and six kids won't either. For us, any of our six kids can go out and do it."

It's a group built around its four seniors — Ryan Daman, Carter Fish, Nick Carlson and Eli Tuomala.

Fish finished in a tie for seventh place with a round of 77. Tuomala was one shot back in 11th with a 78. Daman tied for 12th with a 79, while Carlson carded an 86.

"They're all kind of captains together," Knudson said. "They made the decisions for what this team wears, what time they want to get to practice — all of that stuff. They're such good friends who pick each other up when they're down. It's fun to see a group who has the leadership to keep pushing each other."

Rounding out Bemidji's varsity squad is Beckett Grand, an eighth grader taking important swings with his upperclassmen teammates. Grand turned in a round of 84 on Monday, which was good enough for 34th place individually.

"I watch him golf and he's very level-headed," Knudson said. "He's a happy-go-lucky kid. He's played with these kids in the summer before, and knowing them helps him a lot. Beckett doesn't seem to let much faze him. Maybe that's because he's young, but he just goes with the flow."

Together, the Lumberjacks' six varsity golfers pose a real threat to win Section 8-3A, which would mean Alexandria misses the state tournament as a team for the first time in six seasons.

"It's the same mindset for all of us," Seitz said. "It's about trusting the practice we put in (during) the offseason and trusting the early-season practices. We're all just turning it up before sections. ... Honestly, it's a competitive thing (within the team). We all want to be first on the team. We all want to go out and shoot our lowest score and beat each other. It's just a fun team competition for us."

Competition within the team carries over into mid-week practices.

"Most Thursdays, we do a short game up-and-down contest all day," Seitz said. "We talk a little trash during it. I probably talk the most."

Not only does Alexandria stand in the way of BHS returning to state as a team for the first time since 2001, but Brainerd and Sartell will also be in contention. What gives Knudson confidence in his group's ability to stack up is their collective experience playing in big moments.

"That experience matters," Knudson said. "I think, for them, having had good teams and trying to get over that hump in the past gives them an idea of what that pressure is like. On the second day of sections last year, the team was four-under-par for a while there. They know what it's like to be there."

The two-day Section 8-3A Tournament begins on Thursday, May 30, in Park Rapids, leaving the Jacks a little over three weeks to prepare.

"It would be really big (if we went to state)," Seitz said. "We have four seniors. We've all been grinding for a long time. To finally show people that we have a team that could go to state out of the toughest section in the state, it'd be amazing. It's now or never. It's time to take it all in. It's the year to do it."

Team Results (Top 10)

1-Bemidji 306; 2-East Grand Forks 315; 3-Roseau 317; 4-Pequot Lakes 319; 5-Staples-Motley 322; T-6-Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 326; T-6- Grand Rapids 326; 8-Detroit Lakes 328; 9-Thief River Falls 340; 10-Crookston 367.